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What Causes Cheek Acne?

author image Brenda Barron
Brenda Barron is a writer, editor and researcher based in Southern California. She has worked as a writer since 2004, with work appearing in online and print publications such as BabyZone, "Cat Fancy" and "ePregnancy." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from California State University, Long Beach.
What Causes Cheek Acne?
Young woman applying blush Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images


Millions of people suffer from acne, and the American Academy of Dermatology says acne affects 40 to 50 million people in the United States alone. It can set in at puberty and even earlier and can last well into adulthood. Acne manifests in forms ranging from blackheads to cysts. Acne is most frequently seen on the face. Cheek acne is not unusual.

Oil Glands

Acne forms when excess oil builds up in clogged pores, creating a breeding ground for bacteria already on the skin. Inflammation occurs, and the depth of the inflammation determines the type of acne. The deeper in the pore, the more severe the acne. According to the Mayo Clinic, acne typically appears on the neck, chest, back, shoulders and face, including the cheeks, because these are the areas with the most active oil glands.

Dead Skin Cells

Shedding of dead skin cells that line hair follicles on the face contributes to acne, according to the American Academy of Dermatology website AcneNet. The dead cells irritate the follicles and clog the pores. Oil in the skin continues to be produced regardless of the blockage, building up and resulting in acne.

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Contaminated Products

A pore clogged with excess oil is a breeding ground for bacteria. This leads to inflammation and infection. Using and reusing contaminated makeup sponges, applicators and brushes on your cheeks only multiplies the bacteria, exacerbating and breakouts. Make sure your hands are clean before dipping your fingers into any moisturizer jars or tubs, as they can harbor germs. If possible, buy containers that do not require you to dip your fingers into the product.

Greasy Products

Greasy foundations, moisturizers and sunscreens can further block already clogged pores, creating even more inflammation. When using products on the cheeks, make sure they are oil-free or say they are water-based or noncomedogenic.

Hormone Fluctuations

According to Acne-Treatment-Answers, acne on the cheeks becomes most prevalent during changes in hormone levels, such as puberty, pregnancy and early adulthood. Hormone imbalances result in an overproduction of oil. Women can also experience hormonal changes a few days before their periods

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